(Editor's Note: After some thought, I've decided to change the title, edit out the hashtag, and remove the references to Jada. Don't want to be seen as capitalizing on what that girl has had to go through. D. Young)
It started with Bellinis.
We got there at 2:30. The bottomless was ending at 3. So, in order to get our money's worth, we treated them like shots.
One Bellini. Two Bellinis. Five Bellinis. Six Bellinis.
We stumbled out of there at 3:30. Next stop? A day party.
Waiting for us at the day party: bottles of Honey Jack, Grey Goose, and champagne.
And shots. Multiple shots.
We left the day party at 8:30. And from that point to 9:30 the next morning, I have no memory of what happened. It's completely gone.
I woke up in a hotel bed, with no idea of where I was or how I got there. One of my friends was on a couch. Another on a chair. When they woke up, they filled me in on what happened the night before.
We shared some laughs, watched Sportscenter, talked about Melo and Lebron, went down to the lobby for ginger ale and Advil, and left.
I am 35 years old. I had my first drink at 17, which means I've been drinking for over half of my life. I am not an inexperienced drinker. But, on that night, I drank so much that I lost consciousness. An act that could have put myself and others in danger.
But, aside from a slight headache and a little nausea, I was fine. I woke up on a bed in a clean room. With my clothes still on. I felt good. Happy.
There was no worry of the possibility of being taken advantage of. No worry of being notified of sexual violations that occurred while I was unconscious.
Now, my night ended (and morning began) the way it did because I have great friends. Friends who had my back. Friends who looked out for my best interests. Friends who made sure nothing happened to me. Friends who took care of me. I allowed myself to go as hard as I did because I trusted them.
But it's also true that being a man gives you a certain freedom in situations like that. Not so much a freedom of action, but a freedom of thought. I can party without being aware that getting too drunk might attract sexual predators. I can go to the bathroom with no subconscious worry that someone has been eyeing my behavior all night, waiting for an opportunity to corner me. I just don't have to consider, concern, and carry as much.
This concept of an increased awareness and self-consciousness is one that many of us (myself included) often fail to think about when comparing the world women inhabit to the one men do. Yes, men —- Black men especially — have our own issues and concerns to be conscious of. But, the idea that a sexual assault is possible never really has to cross our minds. At least not the same way it does for many women. We can be more irresponsible. More reckless. More turnt-up. More free. Bad things definitely can happen. But (generally speaking) they're not as present on our minds. And they definitely weren't for me that night.
My fiancee — whose bachelorette party followed a similar script — also has great friends. As she was sharing a story about something that happened during her party, she matter-of-factually mentioned being in the bathroom with two of them.
"Really? Three of y'all in the bathroom at the same time?"
"Of course. Going by yourself just isn't safe."